Niche optional courses: from Gaelic to witchcraft

One of the coolest things about being a humanities student at the University of Edinburgh is that you can choose from an amazing range of niche optional courses in your first and second year. It allows us to explore so many options that would not have been available to us otherwise.

As Queen of Quirky Courses, I have spent hours traversing the University’s programme building tool ‘Path’ in order to find niche optional courses that rebel against the “strong recommendation” to choose suitable modules that could allow for a degree change. Here are some of the finer niche optional courses I invite you to consider…


Want to learn a new language, but want to go against the grain?

Forget French and Spanish and try your hand at Persian or Arabic. Stray further east and opt for Sanskrit or Swahili. Or how about Scandinavian, Russian, or Gaelic?

A word of warning: before you embark on any of these linguistic journeys, I recommend trying a ‘taster’ session at Freshers if possible. It’ll give you a feel for the language, and see whether or not it whets your appetite for more intensive study. It also gives you the chance to listen to ‘storytelling’, which can be beautiful to listen to when the guest speakers are in their element.

Historic Scotland

Want to know how society as we know it today was formed?

Explore Scottish history in ‘Conceptualising Scotland’, ‘Celtic Literature’, ‘Enlightenment Philosophy in Scotland’, or ‘Scottish Architecture’. Narrow down the search to our gorgeous city and try the ‘History of Edinburgh: From Din Eidyn to Festival City’.

Learn about witches being drowned in Princes Street Gardens in ‘Popular Religion, Women, and Witchcraft’. Dispel the Burke and Hare myths of gravedigging with ‘Making of the Modern Body’. Had enough of Edinburgh at this point? Head over to ancient Rome in ‘Christianity in Formation’, and learn about the persecution of ‘cannibal’ Christians.


I hope this wisdom of quirky courses will inspire you to take the road less travelled. Be different!